It was peaceful. It was enlightening. It occasionally required the aid of a sponsor.
It was a Pedalpalooza-free Pedalpalooza!
Of course, I was Pedalpalooza-free last year as well because I was in Montana. But this time it was a very deliberate choice which, at times, was hard to stick to.
But I did!
Well, except for one event.
One particularly sunny day (rare in Portland, even in June now) I was desperate for a bike ride and to get out of the house. Since I was already having an email conversation with a bikey friend, I decided to ask about the ride his girlfriend was leading that evening—it wasn’t really a Pedalpalooza ride, was it? And I wouldn’t know anybody coming except him—right? His answers were sufficient, except for one. I pretended he said it definitely wasn’t a Pedalpalooza ride, and headed out.
While riding to the meet-up location, my mind percolated. Pedalpalooza rides generally start in the central part of the city. Where I am located in Portland, this requires an hour or more just to get to the ride start. Then about another hour to ride home, depending on the end location. The ride I attended was about four hours long, not including the estimated three hours of post-ride hangout time in the host’s backyard. I departed shortly after our backyard arrival but combined with my travel time, that was a six-hour commitment for one ride!
The next morning my mother called me on my attempted self-delusion—our take-away from the ride had the word PEDALPALOOZA emblazened across the front in handwritten script. So I suppose I need to own up to the fact that yes, I went on one Pedalpalooza ride. The most insidious habits often feature a lapse or two, right? (Why am I referring to Pedalpalooza as an “insidious habit?” That’s a can of worms for another day.)
I’ve been doing the Pedalpalooza thing since 2005. That’s the year the photo above was taken—back when Multnomah County Bike Fair was exciting enough to me that I took photos. This is the annual endcap to Pedalpalooza—there are tents with vendors, some free activities, and competitions. The only problem? It is almost the exact same event year after year. To try and keep it exciting, two times I volunteered to help someone else with a booth at the fair. Both experiences left me with a bad taste in my mouth—although one made a good, albeit horrifying, story that I’ve related from time to time.
Eschewing Pedalpalooza is indicative of a larger crossroads that I’ve been trying to navigate since returning to Portland. It’s also tough to talk about because I know a lot of people who put a ton of hard work into planning Pedalpalooza and its associated events. Riding my bike is definitely important to me, but I think I need to start doing things in a new way else my enjoyment is likely to start draining. As a reader of Bikish, I’m sure you’d rather see happy, inspiring tales of discovery rather than bitter, terse observations of the same old thing. Am I right?